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Paintings > Folk Art > Celebration of Holi: The Prince Overwhelms His Queen with a Volley of Colour
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Celebration of Holi: The Prince Overwhelms His Queen with a Volley of Colour

Celebration of Holi: The Prince Overwhelms His Queen with a Volley of Colour

Celebration of Holi: The Prince Overwhelms His Queen with a Volley of Colour

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Phad Painting on Cotton

27.0 inch X 13.0 inch
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Celebration of Holi: The Prince Overwhelms His Queen with a Volley of Colour

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Viewed 12156 times since 19th Jul, 2012
This Phad-painting, rare in colourfulness, visual effects and dramatizing its theme, besides each face glowing with festive mood, and each figure, filled with great energy and zeal as on the war-front, represents a royal couple and their young princess celebrating Holi with their courtiers and subjects, male, female and even children, something quite unusual for medieval feudal life which even when celebrating a festival like Holi maintained a formal distance and did not prefer participation of young boys and girls, though any festival’s most enthused participants, not expected to observe propriety of court life. Only an exceptionally liberal ruler would have such wider participation as portrays this Phad allowing participants in shoes while the king himself, and even the young princess, were bare-footed. Among the participating bands, males or females, the number of those with pipes and trays of coloured powder in hands is larger than the number of those with trumpets and drums suggesting that they had not assembled just to amuse the royal family but to mutually enjoy the festival.

As is the usual format of a Phad that prefers containing its theme, often a narrative with a chain of events, within a space with any of the deep colours, usually red, defining it, this rendition contains its theme into a window with appropriate margins on all four arms neatly carved out of a scarlet background which glows further with the reflection of yellow, widely used in the painting, especially for defining the border’s outlines. The border consists of the repeats of a routine floral-leaf motif contained within this yellow frame running on all four sides. Apart a colourful horizontal band on the top just under the border : green and purple squares with four-petalled flower design in them alternating mutually, and a row of inter-connected multi-coloured domes-like half circles surmounting it, the rest of the canvas-space has been divided into two horizontal registers, one for representing the palace’s building part, and other, its open courtyard, the upper register representing the buildings, and the rest, the palace’s foreground just in front of the palace’s main portal consisting of the elephant-trunks on either side and the motif of Sun god with flames radiating around joining the two ends in the centre.

Balconied pavilions, a unit of two on either side, a smaller one with one damsel seated in it towards the outer side, and a larger one with three ladies in it, on the inner side, symbolise the palace-building. The foreground is the principal venue of the celebration. The façade of the pavilions has been conceived with corbelled arches, flat and fluted domes, decorative alcoves flanking the balcony-openings and their brilliantly painted parts, all revealing rare beauty. As the motif of the sun marks the centre of the painting in the upper register, a large golden pot with wide periphery and narrow base, containing solution of red colour, obviously for the prince, his queen and the young princess, for in medieval feudal lifestyle an article in use of the royal family could not be shared by others except the royal guests, defines the painting’s centre on the bottom. It also divides the canvas horizontally, the right side for male and the left for female. Accordingly, the band of ladies is on the left side, and that consisting of male, on the right, both, the bands of males and females, comprising those carrying drums and trumpets as also those carrying pipes and trays of coloured powder. The royal ladies in the balcony-pavilions, perhaps the other queens and the rest, are also shooting their pipes and sprinkling ‘gulal’ on the prince.

More delightful is the drama taking place in the foreground where Lord Krishna-like attired and bejeweled prince already has a pipe loaded with colour and is discharging it at his queen who tries to hold its volley on her right palm and by swiftly twisting her figure for evading the offensive, all like a skill warrior in the battlefield. Besides, she is not just in defensive, with her left hand she charges at him in return as massive and sudden a volley of ‘gulal’ which takes the prince by surprise. The gesture of her right hand raised for reverting the volley of the colour shot at her, the rhythmic curves of her body and her artistically unfurling ‘odhini’ – upper wear, transform her figure into a mode of dance. Interestingly, indifferent to what the elders are doing the young princess keeps loading her pipe. As is widely known, many ruling princes in Rajasthan after the seat of Pushtimarga was established at Nathadwara ruled their states in the name and under the authority of Krishna and some of them even attired like him.

This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of literature and is the author of numerous books on Indian art and culture. Dr. Daljeet is the curator of the Miniature Painting Gallery, National Museum, New Delhi. They have both collaborated together on a number of books.

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